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Reptiles/I'm very worried about my green anole


Baby Clint
Baby Clint  
His Terrarium
His Terrarium  
QUESTION: Dear Mick,

Iím hoping based off of the info that I provide, that you can tell me what Iím doing wrong, and I really hope you are able to point me in the right direction to helping my green anole get through whatever is wrong with him.

My work place in Houston Tx. has a large warehouse, which is where I found my little friend. Back in August of 2012, a co-worker brought me this tiny anole, just over 2Ē long. He was very skinny, basically just skin and bones. His ribs were showing and he didnít have much life in him. He was completely brown. Realizing that he probably wouldnít live long in the wild, I decided to take on the challenge of reviving him back to health. I was a little discouraged after doing research, due to the maintenance of the needed environment. However I went for it anyways. Up until about two weeks ago, I would say for the most part, heís been progressing okay. I refer to him as he, due to the fact that Iíve seen his dewlap expand. The red extra skin under his neck. He has been very fun to watch, because he is quite active during the day. He hunts crickets and likes to jump from limb to limb. The only thing that seems off to me is his growth. I figure as small as he was, (just over 2Ē) he was quite young when I found him. Itís now been 13 months, and he is now 3 ĹĒ Ė 4Ē. Honestly I havenít yet researched their growth but itís more the body size that Iím concerned about more than the length. His ribs have always been visible although, there was a time frame of about 4 months where he constantly had a fat belly. Where his tail begins has always looked kind of bony and he has a permanent bend toward the end of his tail. He just hasnít looked very healthy, especially compared to other anoles Iíve seen. However, like I said, he has been very active in the past, which is why Iím sure something is wrong with him now.

Clint (The green anoleís environment)
His first 2 months with me, he lived in a 10 gallon start up kit from Petco. However after doing much more research, I upgraded. He has since lived in a 24Ēx18Ēx18Ē (WĒ x DĒ x HĒ) Exo-Terra Terrarium with the rock background. For most of his life, Iíve used the Zoo Med Eco reptile terrarium carpet. I tried the Zoo Med Repti Bark. This helped with the humidity, however it seemed to give the crickets too many places to hide, and it seemed that he was having trouble hunting them. So I switched back to the carpet. There are two rock looking bowls with water, along with artificial plants and vines. I purchased everything I have from Petsmart. For lighting, I have a Exo-Terra light canopy with two Repti Glo bulbs made by Exo-Terra. They are 26W 5.0 UVB bulbs. The light canopy rests about 10Ē above the top of my terrarium. For heating, I have a 100W Exo-Terra Basking bulb housed in a 5.5Ē Flukerís mini sun dome. It hangs about 3Ē above the screen top of my terrarium. Both the UVB lights and the sun dome are on a automatic timer that turns on at 8am and off at 8pm for 12hrs of light. The basking light is located over the far left side of the terrarium. The thermometer is located about 4Ē under the basking bulb and reads 92 degrees Fahrenheit. I mist the artificial plants and pretty much everything else in the tank about 4 Ė 5 times a day to keep the humidity up. When I do this, it usually rises to about 70% humidity, but then drops back down to about 35 Ė 40%. Iíve considered buying a repti-fogger from Zoo med, but just havenít pulled the trigger on this. Do you advise me to do so? The terrarium is located in my office where the room is kept at 72 degrees. I will attach a photo. He poops regularly all over the place, so I clean his habitat about once every month or two at the longest. I place him in a fish bowl with a small artificial plant. I basically just clean the tank and plants with water. No cleaning agents. I change his carpet once every 6 months, if not sooner.

Clintís eating habits:
The first few weeks were very scary. He was so tiny, and I couldnít find any crickets small enough for him. What finally worked were small meal worms, that I would cut in half. I would spray them with calcium supplement made from Zilla. For about 3 weeks, he would eat about 3 very small meal worms every other day. However after research, I found a lot of opinions saying meal worms are not a very healthy solution for anoles. I then started feeding him tiny fruit flies, purchased from Petsmart. He loved these. Maybe a couple of months later he was able to start eating small crickets, that I also purchase at Petsmart. However, until about 2 weeks ago I got lazy on spraying them with the calcium spray. I do keep the crickets in a large critter tote. I feed the crickets Flukerís calcium fortified cricket quencher and High-Calcium cricket diet, also from Flukerís. Maybe three times, (not lately) Iíve caught a fly in the warehouse and put it in his tank. This was really fun to watch him hunt them down. But basically, he just eats the small crickets that feed on the Flukerís diet. No more meal worms. I would say at least 1 cricket a day, sometimes 2 and I once saw him eat 3 in about an hourís time spand. I spray his artificial plants with filtered water, and there is one plant in particular, that he always goes to in order to drink water off of. Iíve never seen him drink from the bowls, which are also filled with filtered water.

The Problem
I recently traveled for work and was gone for the whole month of August. I cleaned the tank before I left and stalked up on plenty of crickets, so that my co worker could feed him. According to my coworker, he followed my instructions of misting the tank twice a day, and putting two crickets in his tank every other day. I told him to hold off if he ever saw more than 1 cricket in the tank. Due to running out of crickets, I believe he went about 5 days without eating before I got back. And he probably went about 3 days without the tank being misted before I got back. I returned to work on Sept. 3rd. He looked a little skinnier than normal and his skin looked a little more wrinkly than normal as well. His daily routine seemed to be the same though. He immediately ate 2 crickets that day along with some tiny fruit flies that I had just bought. Today is September 16th and two days ago was the first time that I saw him drink and eat since the day I got back on the 3rd. This is highly unusual. At least every other day, I see him hunt in the early hours of the day along with drinking some water. Normally I see him drink in the early hours of the day about 2 or 3 times a week. However I canít say that he hasnít ate at all because Iíve put crickets in the tank, and unless they are hiding really good, they donít seem to be stalking up. In the last two weeks, he has gotten skinnier and his activity level has been less and less every day. Two days ago when I saw him eat, he ate two crickets back to back. Iíve never seen him eat two crickets in such short of a time span. I felt relieved but then became worried when I saw how much trouble he had getting it to go down. It took him longer than usual to eat it. He had a cricket leg hanging out of his mouth for about 5 min. before either getting it down or spitting it out. Iím not sure which. Then he paced back and forth for about 20 min. while constantly opening his mouth. Finally he found a resting place and basically didnít move hardly at all for the rest of the day. Every so often he opens his mouth and looks like he wants to throw up. Yesterday he slept most of the day and every so often would open his mouth again. Today the same. Other than about a weird 15 min. of lethargically walking around a plant he just sleeps. If he moves, itís simply just to move to another spot to fall asleep again. He doesnít bask under the sun dome like he does everyday normally. During the day, he usually stays high up off the floor, however in the last two days, he has hung out on the plant near the floor where he sleeps. He did not eat yesterday nor today either. He closely watches a cricket if it passes him but doesnít make a move on it. There are a few fruit flies in there as well that he wonít go after. He usually always goes after fruit flies. Iím very worried. On the bright side, he is very green and his face is not sunken in at all. His head looks healthy but his body just seems to be getting skinnier and skinnier. Flabby skin. I did see him poop right after he ate those two crickets two days ago. The few movements that he does make are very slow and weak looking. Normally he is very aggressive with his movements.

My thoughts:
Iím now wondering if I got a bad batch of fruit flies or crickets. Should I get rid of them and go get new ones? Should I make sure to use some sort of reptile cleaning agent for his tank? And is that fogger a good investment to keep the humidity up rather than misting his tank? I would also like to know if, he was healthy, could he safely be let back into the wild after a little over a year of captivity. If not, no worries, because I will gladly continue to take care of him as I have. I just want to make sure that Iím doing everything to give him the proper environment. Please advise. I also read opinions saying that I could put him in a bowl with very shallow warm water if he is dehydrated. Please advise.

Other Info:
As I said earlier, he was wild caught as a very unhealthy baby. He has been on his own in his terrarium. No other life forms of any kind in his environment other than the food that Iíve listed. He shed about 3 months ago and maybe 5 or 6 times in the 13 months that Iíve had him. I used to run a 75w night black heat lamp from zilla at night but stopped this about 6 months ago. Should I restart this? If you need any further information, please contact me at the email address Iíve given.

Thank you so much for your time,
Vincent and Clint

P.S. Your requirements are kind of intimidating. Thatís why I wrote a novel. And more importantly, I really donít want to see my little green friend die on me. Thank you again so much, for any advice given. Please let me know if you need any other pictures.

ANSWER: My requirements exist for a reason. If they are too intimidating for you, then you are welcome to find help elsewhere. I run a rescue where I have sometimes upward of 100 animals I am treating PER DAY, as well as people such as yourself asking for help, and I don't have time to go back and forth with people who are wasting my time by not following directions nor providing what I have already asked for once, in order for me to make an informed determination about health of an animal, LONG DISTANCE. What's more, I mostly provide this service for FREE. I really don't think I ask too much, and your comments about it have only served to piss me off. So, let's stay on topic now if you want help and just provide what I ask for.

1. Submit a current photo (good quality) of the Anole itself.
2. If you have the ability to record and upload a short video to youtube of his responsiveness, then that would be helpful.
3. Your history, while detailed, is too difficult to follow due to length and excessive content that I don't need at this point. I also don't see some of the things I've specifically asked for. Please resubmit the relevant facts in concise and ordered fashion as I have them laid out in my instructions. I have to be able to reference the relevant details without scrolling up and down a page and trying to parse paragraphs to find out current environmental conditions or when he last ate or defecated.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I sincerely apologize for pissing you off. That was not my intention, and I'm sorry I wasted your time. I don't think you ask for too much. I just made that last statement, to try and explain my long ass letter. And honestly, shortly after sending the letter, I started thinking how I could've better given you the information needed. I'm sorry it came off the wrong way. I have an appointment with a vet today, so I'll just leave you be. Good luck in helping all animals.


And little doubt it will be your biggest waste of time and money if the vet isn't board specialized, so now you're wasting my time, and the Anoles. I can almost guarantee you a failed outcome. And since I only take one question per day, per category, you've now wasted a useful question that could have helped someone else, just so you could come here and provide nothing useful. Good day.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research & easily find the answer yourself. My standards are that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me any question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer each of those questions to provide that background, will result in your question being rejected. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,, educational content contributor to, and a Dept of State Health Services accredited animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house, including minor surgery and necropsy. I am most experienced in Chelonia with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes FIRST with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer, despite how it might make you feel.


I am a non-academic herpetologist with 25+ years reptile experience, and I am an accredited Texas Dept of State Health Services Animal Control Instructor for Reptiles (CE). I am a reptile rescuer, reptile wildlife rehabilitator, and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet, and article/journal content contributor to Lafebervet. I have medical and scientific resources available, and I perform in house reptile veterinary care for my rescues. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct quite a few in the past. The average vet is not well versed with reptile physiology and medical treatments.

Animals that I am currently caring for, or have significant rehabilitation and husbandry experience with: Horned Lizards (5 species); Eastern and Western Box Turtles; Painted, RES, YBS, Soft-Shell, and Cooter aquatic turtles; Russian Tortoises; Fire Bellied Toads; Fire Bellied Newts; Ornate Horned Frogs; Green Iguanas; Desert Iguanas; Spiny Lizards; Long Nosed Leopard Lizards; Anoles; Racerunners; Collared Lizards; Bullsnakes; Eastern Ratsnakes; Great Plains Ratsnakes; Kingsnakes; Gartersnakes; Cornsnakes; Boas; Pythons; Bearded Dragons; Water Dragons; Massasauga Rattlesnakes; Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes; Leopard, Mediterranean, Golden, Indo-Pacific, African White-Spotted Geckos; Savannah Monitors; Jeweled Curly-Tailed Lizards; Long-Tailed Grass Lizards; Fox Squirrels; Deer Mice; Hispid Cotton Rats; Merriam's Pocket Mice; Eastern Cotton-Tails; Blue Bar racing pigeon; Budgies; Asian Forest Scorpions.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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